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About ten years ago, this volatile nation dramatised the Episode of “ Sampson.”—They turned his adventures into a very diverting Ballet:Sampson danced a Pas Seul, with the Gates of Gaza on his back. Delilah cut off his hair in the intervals of a tasteful Hornpipe ; and the Philistines surrounded and seized their victim, amidst the evolutions of a Country Dance.
THE BUSY BODY." This play, by Mrs.Centlivre,was decried, before its appearance, by all the players; and Wilks, the original Sir George Airy, refused, for some time, to accept a part in it. The audience, who went. to the theatre, was so predetermined against it, as to contemplate its condemnation; and yet it was received so favourably, that it had a run of thirteen nights.
POINSINET, THE FRENCH DRAMATIST. This author was, like many of his brethren of the profession, obliged, sometimes, to make the payment of his tradesmen's bills depend on the caprice of an audience. He used to tell the following ludicrous anecdote, that arose out of this
circumstance. On the first representation of “ Tom Jones," his tailor, attended by his foreman, had gone that night to the theatre, and were apprehended as pickpockets. They had taken their stations in the pit, and the crafty tailor was heard, from time to time, whispering to his squire, “ Shall I cut? shall I cut?”—The words were understood to refer to the cutting of purses, and they were handed over to the sentinel as suspected characters: they were, accordingly, on the point of being conducted to prison, on this charge, when the master cried out,“ We are not cut-purses, we are only tailors; I have the honor of supplying clothes to M. Poinsinet. He has ordered from me a coat, to be paid for out of the profits of this piece ; and as I am not skilled in the drama, I have brought with me my foreman, who is un homme d'esprit, to tell me if the piece is good, and if I may safely cut my cloth."
SHERIDAN VERSUS CUMBERLAND,
At the first performance of “The School for Scandal,” Mr. Cumberland sat in the front of the stage-box, and'evinced the most complete apathy. The wit and humour which it contains, never affected his risible muscles. This being reported to
Mr. Sheridan, he observed, " that was very ungrateful, for I am sure I laughed heartily at his tragedy of The Battle of Hastings.''
GARRICK, in his performance of the venerable Lear, acted so powerfully on the feelings of one of the sentinels, (who were placed on each side of the front of the stage,) that the poor fellow fainted away during the last scene. After the play, flattered by this unsophisticated token of applause, Garrick sent for the soldier into the green room, and gave him a guinea. The man whose turn it was, the next night, to do the duty, hearing of the good fortune of his comrade, while Garrick was performing Ranger, made a sham faint, to the no small amusement both of audience and performers.
The following event, though strange, is, nevertheless, true, and happened in the Glasgow Theatre, in the year 1793. Mrs. Cross, who played, in the previous winter, at Covent Garden Theatre, went, in the summer, to Scotland, to
play with Mrs. Esten. When the season concluded at Edinburgh, the company went to Glasgow. On one occasion, the Provost paid the Theatre a visit, and, as soon as Mrs. Cross came on the stage, he exclaimed, loudly, “Stop the play, 'till I speak with that woman." The anxiety he manifested occasioned the manager instantly to sus. pend the performance. The curtain was dropped, and the Provost went round to Mrs. Cross's dres: sing room. After a very few inquiries, he found her to be his wife! from whom he had been se. parated nearly twenty years. They each had supposed the other dead. The husband im mediately took her home; and, the next evening, by way of showing that she had not forgotten the profession by which she had formerly existed, she made her appearance in the Theatre as a spectator.
SEATS ON THE STAGE.
It was customary, in the earlier ages of the Drama in England, to admit that class of spectators, who frequented the boxes, on the stage, and to accommodate them with stools, for the use of which they paid sixpence or a shilling, according to circumstances. It would seem, however, that this absurd custom was confined to the
smaller houses, or Private Theatres, as they were termed; where the company was less numerous, and more select. Here, the fastidious' critic; the wit, ambitious of distinction; and the gallant, studious of the display of his apparel or of his person ; were to be seen, seated upon stools, or reclining upon the rushes with which the stage was strewed, and regaling themselves with pipes and tobacco, supplied, either by their own pages, or by the boys of the house. Amidst such“ most admired confusion” and indecency were the dramatic works of Shakspeare, and his contemporaries, produced ; works, which we,
“With all appliances and means to boot,” with every thing that can promote the reality of the scene, and invigorate the exertion, have never seen equalled, and very seldom, indeed, approached. The following quotation, from the induction to “Cynthia's Revels," is quite in point.
“ And here I enter." 1 Child. What! upon the stage too?
2 Child. Yes; and I step forth like one of the children and ask you, Would you have a stool, sir ?
3 Child. A stool, boy!
2 Child. Aye, sir, if you'll give me sixpence, I'll find you one. 3 Child. For what, I pray thee? what shall I do with it